My Literary Friend
Once I wrote a little poem which I thought was very fine,
And I showed the printer’s copy to a critic friend of mine,
First he praised the thing a little, then he found a little fault;
‘The ideas are good,’ he muttered, ‘but the rhythm seems to halt.’
So I straighten’d up the rhythm where he marked it with his pen,
And I copied it and showed it to my clever friend again.
‘You’ve improved the metre greatly, but the rhymes are bad,’ he said,
As he read it slowly, scratching surplus wisdom from his head.
So I worked as he suggested (I believe in taking time),
And I burnt the ‘midnight taper’ while I straightened up the rhyme.
‘It is better now,’ he muttered, ‘you go on and you’ll succeed,
‘It has got a ring about it — the ideas are what you need.’
So I worked for hours upon it (I go on when I commence),
And I kept in view the rhythm and the jingle and the sense,
And I copied it and took it to my solemn friend once more —
It reminded him of something he had somewhere read before.
* * * * * *
Now the people say I’d never put such horrors into print
If I wasn’t too conceited to accept a friendly hint,
And my dearest friends are certain that I’d profit in the end
If I’d always show my copy to a literary friend.
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 125-126